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April 8, 2008

First Impressions: What Kind Do You Make?

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First Impressions, Lesley Edwards-Gaither

Lesley Edwards-Gaither

Photo Credit: Ben Baker

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Dr. Amy Wechsler, MC's resident dermatologist and psychiatrist, analyzes 33-year-old Springfield, OH, native Lesley Edwards-Gaither

EXPRESSION
AW: Her eye contact and smile exude confidence. She's not being ultra-serious or goofy. She seems very comfortable with herself.
LE: I move around a lot for my job as a contractor for the Department of Defense, so I like to show who I am.

FRECKLES
AW: Some of her freckles look raised. They might be benign papules called dermatosis papulosa nigra, or DPN. Think Morgan Freeman.
LE: They're actually completely flat freckles. I didn't have them when I was a child but have acquired them over the years.

HAIR
AW: Her hair is thinning right around her temple. This happens if you get a lot of chemical treatments.
LE: My hair started breaking after I had my second child a year-and-a-half ago. Then again, it's also been processed a few times.

JEWELRY
AW: Her earrings show she might be a bit bohemian or influenced by other cultures. They also look heavy.
LE: They're clip-ons! I'm prone to keloid scars [large, raised scars common with darker skin tones], so I've never gotten my ears pierced for fear of developing them.

Wechsler and Edwards-Gaither take a moment for a long-distance beauty consultation.

AW: Do you often pull your hair back in a tight ponytail or braids? That could explain the damage around your hairline.
LE: I did when I was cheerleading 20 years ago. I looked like a Fraggle Rock character with this huge pouf on the back of my head. Is the breakage normal?

AW: Yes, especially for black women who are into extreme hairstyles. Unfortunately, those looks are very damaging and can result in hair loss—the technical term is "traction alopecia." You've also had a baby recently, and hair loss continues for a few months after breast-feeding.
LE: What can I do to strengthen my hair?

AW: Try biotin and other vitamin-B supplements, which help reinforce the new hair growing in. Unfortunately, once hair breaks at the root, it rarely returns.
LE: What about my freckles? I love them and really hope my children get them, too.

AW: When did you first notice them?
LE: I got glasses when I was 13, and the frames drew attention to my freckles. I had been aware of them before, but it was shocking to realize how prominent they were. In my teens and 20s, I wanted to cover them up but didn't know how. Now I'm fine with them. Will I be getting more?

AW: Freckles are part genetics and part sun exposure. What's in your genes is going to come out over time, and the more sun you get, the more freckles will develop. Do you notice more in the summer?
LE: No, they're pretty stable year-round. I see dermatologists regularly and am good about sunscreen.

AW: Good job for being so skin savvy! The proof's in your photo—the camera obviously loves you.


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